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  • Matt Reilly


Late summer proved a difficult time in southwest Virginia. The rain was heavy and the rivers were full more often than they weren't. With super unstable conditions, being able to quickly change gears allowed us to stay on fish. Many smallmouth trips were converted to trout trips, and carp trips, and musky trips. Some stayed smallmouth trips.

When we were able to get on the smallmouth rivers, the fishing was good. Beau Beasley, a writing friend of mine who also puts on the great Virginia Fly Fishing and Wine Festival in Doswell, Virginia (where I'll be speaking, this year), boated a 22.25" smallmouth--his personal best--in high water on the forefront of Hurricane Florence. A few floats on smaller rivers when the New was blown out produced impressive results, and a reason to return. If you're interested in floating smaller, off-the-beaten path rivers for smallmouth, get in contact with me and we'll make it happen in the spring or early summer.

Carp fishing on sections of river not impacted by the heavy rain was phenomenal throughout August, with several fish landed in just a few trips.

Because southwest Virginia's many fertile wild trout streams stay cold through the summer, and thanks to the regular rains that made things difficult in the smallmouth world, the summer terrestrial fishing was phenomenal up until mid-October, when excessive moisture and frost killed off many of the bugs. When large grasshoppers, beetles, and crickets are around, big fish know they can find a hearty meal on the surface. This makes for some of the year's best and most exciting dry fly fishing--period. And if there is a silver lining to the muddy rivers we had all summer, it's that we got to spend more time chasing wild trout with dry flies.

All in all, looking back on the summer, it's a little disappointing that we weren't able to get more smallmouth fishing in, but the fishing was good when we could get it, and it was a great year, regardless. Fall fishing is now upon us!

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